Thursday, March 8, 2012

March Mystery Agent REVEALED + Winner(s)!!

Folks, I am super pleased to reveal our March Mystery Agent. Give a warm welcome to...

Sarah LaPolla from Curtis Brown, LTD!!

And now for Sarah's picks! The winner of a FULL manuscript request is...

Chelsey's VOICE
YA magical realism

Pitch: Rendered mute thanks to a crippling anxiety disorder, seventeen-year-old Kyra Anderson lets her art speak for her, but a painting won't fix the riff between her and her stepsister so she accepts a deal from a stranger on a messageboard: she'll be able to speak for herself, if she trades away her artistic talent.

CONGRATS, Chelsey!!! Please send your winning entry to Sarah with your query pasted in the body of the email, and your full manuscript attached as a Word .doc to sl (at) cbltd (dot) com!!

Now for the runners-up! The winners of a partial request (first THREE chapters) are...

Stephanie's EXTRACTION

Congrats, ladies!!! Please email your first three chapters to Sarah at sl (at) cbltd (dot) com!!

And, of course, we couldn't let Sarah go without an interview! Check out her awesome below:

1) It says on the Curtis Brown website that you "love complex characters, coming-of-age stories, and strong narrators". Which published novels have you read recently that fit this description?
To me, The Outsiders fits that description completely. It has all three criteria, and I still want to reach into the page and hug Ponyboy. I guess that doesn’t answer the question “what I’ve read recently” because I’ve read that several times over the last 15 years. The most recent title I’ve read with this description is the new Francesca Lia Block title, Pink Smog. I had only recently discovered Weetzie Bat and now I understand why so many people in my generation loved it so much. Pink Smog is the prequel that has the same engaging character, but is almost like her origin story. It’s the definition of a coming-of-age story, but because it’s Weetzie, there’s a magical twist.

2) It's no secret that you're a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan (being one myself, it's impossible to blame you!). What do you think writers can learn from the show? Are there any other shows you think writers can learn a lot from?
Not to get too self-promotional, but I actually wrote a blog post about what writers can learn from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, specifically in terms of character development: The show is not without flaws, but the writing quality in terms of a series arc is just impeccable. Other shows can be just as educational. For pacing, I recommend watching The Vampire Diaries, which puts more plot twists into one episode than most other shows have all season. For dialogue, it’s hard to top The West Wing. Even if your characters aren’t as educated or high profile, but in terms of delivery and timing, it’s a good writing lesson. I also think you can learn a lot from Lost. The plot of Lost was irrelevant from the beginning, so in that sense it could be a lesson on what not to do in terms of leaving plot holes and dragging stories out too long. But I think writers can learn a lot from it on how to world build, create strong characters, and keep your readers intrigued.

3) Not only do you feature short stories submitted by writers on your blog, Glass Cases, but you're a writer yourself. What's the hardest part about your writing process? The most fun?
The hardest part is definitely finding the time to write. I tend to let everything else come before my own writing, but I’ve been getting better at reserving a small chunk of time for myself each week. I used to write nonfiction, but I’m determined to finish a YA novel this year. Making the shift to fiction was difficult. When I first started my current WIP, it was closely autobiographical. Now my characters have taken on lives of their own and a plot has formed, and it seems surreal that I actually wrote it. I also don’t write linearly, so now that I’m piecing everything together and seeing the larger picture it feels real. That’s been the fun part.

4) Any tips for writers struggling with their one-line pitches?
One-line pitches are tough. I think the best way to do it is to take your query and remove any unnecessary character descriptions and back-story. Ask yourself what your story is about. Not thematically or existentially. We don’t need to hear that it’s about your character learning to find herself or dealing with some larger issue. We need to know what it is that makes your character go through that.  

5) Do you have any exciting client/agency news to share?
I’m super excited for two new YA titles coming out from Simon Pulse in 2013. KM Walton’s follow-up to CRACKED will be published in the spring. It’s called EMPTY and will also deal with bullying and teenage depression. The main character is named Adele and she’s just so funny and heartbreaking. I love her. The other title is a debut from Christa Desir called TRAINWRECK. It’s told from a teen boy’s perspective of what happens when the girl he loves is raped and how badly he wants to make it all better. It’s such a powerful boo, and it’ll be published in the fall. I can’t wait!

Thanks SO MUCH to Sarah for being our March Mystery Agent!! If you'd like to find out more about her,  check out these sites:

Make sure you tune in next month for yet another contest!! Have a great Thursday! :)


  1. I had to do a double and triple take when I saw my name up there... thank you Sarah and Operation Awesome!

  2. Sweetness. Sarah and Operation Awesome, you just made my day. Thanks!

  3. AHHHH! YAY!

    Thanks so much Operation Awesome!

  4. Well this was a lovely way to wake up this morning. :)

  5. Congrats to all. What a great contest.

  6. Congrats to the winners! Good luck!

  7. I love Glass Cases! Very cool interview and CONGRATULATIONS to the winners!


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